Campus & Community

Stevens Digital Triage Team Wins 1st Place in International ISPE Poster Competition

Stevens Institute of Technology fosters an entrepreneurial culture that encourages faculty and students to collaborate with "real life" partners on innovative solutions to unmet needs through technology.

Earlier this year, two student teams, representing multi-disciplinary student and faculty collaborations, advanced to the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Student Poster Competition at the ISPE Annual Meeting in Orlando on November 7-10. After contending with teams from the world's top science and engineering schools, one Stevens team, represented by Biomedical Engineering student Rosemary Garofalo, walked away with first prize.

Rosemary presented the winning poster, "Digital Triage Assistant" on behalf of a team that also includes Cameron Abt, Peter Backeris, Malika Bhargava, Leticia Ennist, S. Raza Husain, Vaida Jakimaviciute, and Glenn Shevach. The diverse backgrounds of the student team members include Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. The team's advisors are Dr. Vikki Hazelwood and Prof. Bruce McNair.

"We congratulate the significant accomplishments of our student teams and their faculty advisors," says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. "Our students are gaining the important research experience and entrepreneurial skills required of industry while advancing technologies that meet critical social needs."

As the representative for the winning DTA Team, Rosemary Garofalo had five minutes to pitch her team's technology before a panel of judges that included industry representatives and past ISPE presidents. Her dynamic poster presentation won not only the highest scores, but also encouragement from judges and attendees to further develop DTA—a life-saving, portable device designed to streamline the triage process in emergency environments—into a product for the market.

"The hands-on and multi-disciplinary experience gave us a great perspective on the realities of the medical device business and bringing a project to completion," Rosemary says. "At the competition, I was able to communicate with people from industry on a truly professional level. I believe this broad exposure has prepared us to be successful in our careers after graduation."

"Developing genuine innovations like the Digital Triage Assistant develops the students' first-hand knowledge of what it takes to be effective in the biomedical device and pharmaceutical industries," says Dr. Hazelwood. Capitalizing on her extensive industry experience, Dr. Hazelwood stewards Biomedical Engineering students through powerful experiences beyond the classroom that equip them for life after college.

"Stevens has a long history of challenging our undergraduate engineering students with an intense multi-disciplinary curriculum," reports Prof. McNair. "This project exemplifies the positive impact of bringing together teams with diverse specialties to solve real-world problems."

The ISPE Student Poster Competition is an annual event recognizing the best in student research and development of technologies advancing the state of the art in medicine. Student teams participate in regional competitions, with the winners advancing to the international contest at the Annual Meeting. An active New Jersey Chapter of ISPE provided generous support allowing the student teams to attend the competition.

The DTA Team has won widespread recognition for their research efforts and entrepreneurial acumen. The team was a finalist in the 2010 CIMIT Prize for Primary Healthcare Competition, winning $10,000 to develop a business plan and compete for a grand prize. The team also won first place and $5000 at the Rochester Institute for Technology IEEE Student Design Contest '10.

This award represents the third time in the last four years that a Stevens team has won this prestigious international competition. Stevens has a flourishing student chapter of ISPE with over 100 members representing both graduate and undergraduate students from Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Biology, Mechanical Engineering, and other programs. Dr. Leonid Shnayder, Industry Professor of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (PM), is the Student Chapter Faculty Advisor and Rajan Ramanuj, a second year graduate student in PM, is currently Student Chapter President.

The other Stevens team to participate in the worldwide competition was headed by Biomedical Engineering student Zoe Folchman-Wagner, who presented a poster, "Design of a Novel Device for Rapid Antigen Detection." The other members of her team are Steve Defroda, Jenifer McGuire, Peter Movilla, and Marc van de Rijn. The team advisors are Dr. Philip Leopold, Dr. Antonio Valdevit, Dr. Vikki Hazelwood, and Dr. Roy Mondesire.

This latest ISPE award represents a significant achievement for the DTA Team as well as an outstanding individual effort by presenter Rosemary Garofalo. Repeated success of Stevens students at this international competition further represents the quality of faculty and curriculum in the School of Engineering and Science. The entrepreneurial and multi-disciplinary approach promoted at Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation UniversityTM, actively provides students with these and other invaluable experiences that lead to important research and development in emerging technologies and exceptional alumni outcomes.

To take advantage of the research and educational opportunities available at Stevens, please visit the Office of Admissions.